Sri Vamana Avatar was fifth in the line of Dasavataras of Lord Sri Maha Vishnu. This avatara took place during Treta Yuga before Sri Parashurama Avatara. Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama Sthotra describes in sloka 17 and 56, the Lord asUpendro Vaamanah and Trivikramah. Bhagawan Vamana appeared today – Bhadrapad Day – Shukla Paksha Dwadasi.
Lord in this avatara was known as Vamana because he was dwarf in form at the beginning. He was known as Trivikrama because he is the one who has conquered the three worlds, Earth, Upper worlds and Nether worlds. He grew to a gigantic size while suppressing the King Bali and conquered the Universe with just three paces of his foot. He was also referred as Upendra as he was known to be the younger brother of Indra. We find all the three names Trivikrama, Vaamana and Upendra while reciting 24 Kesava Namas. An exclusive Purana named after Lord Vamana called Sri Vaamana Purana scripted by Lord and Sage Veda Vyasa forms part of 18 great Puranas called Ashtadasa Puranas.
Lord Vamana was born as the son of Sage Kashyapa (Kashyapa Prajapathi) and his wife Aditi in accordance to the penance done by the couple and prayers of Indra and other Deities. He was born on Bhadrapada Sukla Dwadasi day under the star constellation of Sravana Nakshatra. This day every year is celebrated as Vamana Jayanti the day on which Lord Sri Vamana was born. As soon as he was born He took no time in attaining the boyhood becoming a Vatu (Brahmachari). Lord Brahma himself initiated the Gayathri Manthra to Sri Vaamana. His attire was that of a typical Brahmin Brahmachari, wearing a Koupeena (Loin cloth), a sacred thread, holding a Chatthra (Umbrella) in one hand and Dhanda/Kamandalu (stick and water jug) in the other, his upper body covered with Deer skin, wearing a ring of Dharbha (Kusa grass) to his third finger.
Significance of Three Steps
Lord Vamana went to King Maha Bali and asks for three steps of land measured by his foot as charity. Initially Bali hesitated to donate just three paces of land as it is a disgrace to his status and was guilty to give such charity. But later agreed, upon insisting by Lord Vamana and promised to give three paces of land as charity measured by Sri Vamana’s foot. When Maha Bali completed the ritual process of donating the land, Lord Vamana assumed his cosmic form (Trivikrama), measured the entire Earth including the nether worlds by his first step.
With his second step He measured the entire upper worlds. When his foot reached the zenith it crossed the Sathya Loka where Lord Brahma stays. Seeing the foot of Lord Maha Vishnu, Lord Brahma offered abhishekam and washed the Lord’s foot and the water that fell from His foot sanctified the entire Universe. We find in the verses of great composer and Saint Sri Annamacharya referring to the foot washed by Lord Brahma (Brahma Kadigina Padamu) in one of his verses on Lord Sri Venkateswara.
When the entire Universe was conquered by just two paces of Lord Sri Maha Vishnu (Vamana) there was no space left in the Universe to keep Vamana’s third pace. When Lord Vamana asked Maha Bali the space to keep his third pace, all the pride and vanity of Maha Bali had vanished and he had no hesitation in surrendering before the Supreme Lord. Having realised the Supreme Reality, Bali readily offered his own head to keep the Lord’s third step. Lord Vamana immediately placed his third pace (his foot) on the head of Bali and sent him to the nether worlds. Thus the ahankara (egoism) of Maha Bali was suppressed and Indra was restored with his kingdom.
Sri Vamana Avatara is the first Avatara where Lord Sri Maha Vishnu took complete human form though dwarf at the beginning. The uniqueness of this Avatara is that the Lord did not use any weapon. The only weapon he used was that of begging in front of King Bali in accordance to the Brahmanic (Brahmachari) form he had attained. The Lord did not kill the King Bali even though he was an Asura. He conquered him in a Vedic way with his intelligence. Unlike other Avataras, Vamana Avatara was a Sattvik Avatara. Lord had to resort to this strategy due to the promise he had made to his beloved devotee Prahlada not to kill any of his descendants. Astrologically Jupiter (Guru) is said to be the Paramatma Amsa of Vamana Avatara.
Message from Vamana Avatara
Hidden behind every Avatara of Paramatma there is a message/moral conveyed. In this Sri Vamana Avathara the message is total surrender to the God however mighty one may be. When once you shed your ego and surrender totally with devotion at the feet of the supreme Lord there is nothing one can worry about and will get total protection. This is what exactly has happened in case of Bali who had no other alternative but to surrender to the Lord Trivikrama who had conquered the three worlds.
When King Bali surrendered in front of Lord Vamana with total devotion, the Lord was very much pleased and gave him boons voluntarily without being asked by King Bali. He not only made him the ruler of the nether world Suthala but also assured him that He would always protect his kingdom. He also assured Bali that he would become the Indra in the next Manvanthara. By the touch of Lord’s foot on the head of King Bali all his sins got cleaned up, he became immortal (Chiranjeevi). This is what one should understand that we should never ask for alms to the Supreme Lord. If you ask you will get only what you had asked. It you don’t ask you will get everything that you require.
The story of Bali also bring out the reality that, there is nothing permanent and nothing to be taken for granted in this world be it wealth, beauty, power, status, position or family and nothing belongs to anyone. Even the mighty have to fall on one day or the other. We have several such historical examples that we are also seeing in this modern world.
Festivals related to Vamana Avatara:
The day on which Lord Vamana was born is celebrated every year on Bhadrapada Shukla Dwadasi Day as Sri Vamana Jayanthi.
Temples of Vamana Avatara
Some of the famous temples of Lord Vamana are
Ulagalanda Perumal Temple: It is a temple of Lord Sri Maha Vishnu in Trivikrama roopa (Vamana Avathara). The statue is 35 ft. height and 24 ft. width. It is said that during Vamana Avathara Lord Vishnu appeared to King Bali at this place. It is also said that the Lord showed his Trivikrama roopa to Lord Aadisesha at this place. This temple is located in Shiva Kanchi (Kaancheepuram) in Tamil Nadu state.
Thrikkara Temple: The only Vamana Temple in Kerala near Cochin famous for Onam festival. This place is said to have been the capital of King Bali.
Tirukoilur Ulagalanda Perumal Temple: Situated in Tirukoilur in South Arcot district of Tamil Nadu this temple is dedicated to Lord Trivikrama (Vamana).
Vamana Temple: in Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh